I did it! I may not have made a batch as large as your grandma, but I made salsa from scratch here on my homestead in the middle of nowhere.
With the exception of the cayenne peppers, which admittedly is a huge part of the recipe, I was able to grow all the tomatoes, tomatillos and bunching onions that went into this hot sauce and salsa!
After harvesting everything I needed from the garden, I put together a recipe that would work with the produce I was able to bring to the table. I really live wayyyy off grid in the middle of nowhere so if I was you I would use lemon juice if possible but I used white vinegar because it's what I had and you need to be careful canning salsa without a good acidity level, no-one wants botulism, and that's the main reason for vinegar aside from preserving the salsa and hot sauce.
I moved off grid nearly 4 years ago and I came out here with nothing. I live very fugally and don't have a blender so I smashed my peppers down with a wooden handle but you could easily use a blender for both the salsa and hot sauce.
Ok, so the cayenne pepper hot sauce is made from half a pound of cayenne peppers, I cut the ends off and saved them for the seeds. This is because I grow everything I can here on the homestead.
Once I cut up the peppers I tossed them in my skillet with 1 a cup of vinegar, you could use a cup of lemon juice instead if you like, I added a tablespoon of garlic powder, you could use 4 cloves of garlic if you have it and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add just enough water to cover your peppers and slowly simmer. If you're going to use a blender this process only takes 15 minutes. But if you do it old school like me, it will take about 40 minutes. After 15 minutes you can toss it in a blender and pulse it until there are no chunks, strain out any excess, the chunky left over can be dehydrated into chili powder. If you want it old school and chunky, simmer it slowly, mash the chilis occasionally with a wooden handle until you get the consistency you want and bottle it up!
Did I mention I seared the chilis first?
When it comes to making the salsa, I used 2.5lbs of tomatoes, 4 peppers, 2 teaspoons of salt 3/4 cup vinegar and enough water to cover the salsa while it simmered for 15 minutes.
While the salsa was simmering I made a fire in my bbq to bring enough water to boil that would cover the top of my pint canning jars. I scooped the salsa into the jars and left half an inch or head room. Once the water was boiling, I dipped the caps in the hot water to soften the rubber gasket, then placed the cap on top and tightened the lid down, not too tight but tight. I set them in the hot water bath for 15 minutes.
Here are the cans of salsa before the bath.
And here they are complete. The jar on the left is the hot sauce which I didn't put in the hot bath because I'll use it right away, same with the second container of salsa, the other two I bathed in hot water which will seal over the next 12 hours. Truth is, I'll eat it all within a week or so but I wanted to experiment and try it out. This is my first time canning but it all looks and tastes great. I'll include the recipes below for easy access.
Cayenne pepper hot sauce
half a pound of cayenne peppers
tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 cup water
1 cup vinegar
simmer 20 to 40 minutes depending on method above
2.5 lbs tomatoes / tomatillos
Handful of bunching onions
4 cayenne peppers
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup vinegar
enough water to cover
simmer for 15 minutes